You leave Assam, India for a better job, a better opportunity, a better life.
You come to a new country, you complete your studies, your training, get a job, buy a house and settle down. After some time and many debates later you decide to get the citizenship of this new county.
You do so and very soon you are deemed an American by all concerned. Each time you fill an application form, appear for a job interview, or attend a social event…you are taken to be an American, no questions asked. And for all practical purposes that is what you have opted to become!
But at a personal level does that change anything in terms of who you really are?
Did the citizenship oath you took & the formalized passport you received, make you stop feeling, thinking or acting like an Assamese, Indian? You became an American citizen overnight in paper…but did you actually become one emotionally, psychologically?
Indeed, I don’t believe I truly know what an American identity is.. leave alone feel it!
And if you think you feel like an American
Question 1. How and when did that happen?
Leads to another more complex question
2. Is that “American sense” a genuine state or one you created to fit a prototype?
For example, I celebrate Thanksgiving wholeheartedly and it is one of my favourite holidays. But does it have any emotional connections for me as does say Bihu, Diwali or Durga Puja? If I left America and took citizenship say in China, will I miss Bihu or Thanksgiving from an emotional perspective ? Million dollar question right?
A small example (non religious but cultural) Gautam not taking me out to a Valentine dinner or buying me flowers/chocolates is the norm in our home … a joke we often make in front of friends, but in all honesty, for me, it does not have a huge emotional factor attached to it. I remember an American friend of ours that cancelled, out on a social event, we were all going to attend on Valentine’s day because she could not let her husband down on Valentine day. That day was very special for them. I often think that my sentiments attached to Valentines day should have changed when I became an American
citizen. Like my friend I too should feel the ‘importance/significance ‘ of that day
But I don’t.
On the other hand
Today ( tomorrow) is the Magh Bihu Uruka.
I miss the hustle bustle of the fish market In Guwahati,
I miss the making of the Til, Ghila pittas, Gamar and Narikal lodoo, at home.
I miss the night time cooking of the big URUKA dinner.
I miss sitting around the huge bonfire the night before drinking tea talking “gupshup”.
I miss the early morning hot shower, the foggy misty air and the smell of firewood burning,
I miss the offerings to the Meji.
I miss the rounds to the homes of all the relatives,
I miss receiving the gamusha, the hugs, the cheerful greetings of loved family members,
I miss the afternoon meal of Seera,doi, Luchi-Torkari.
I miss it all…
I have lived more years outside of Assam. I have attended more social events in England and America than India. Yet it seems like … in all these years I have not been able to detach myself from my Assamese roots.
My identity and emotions continue to be that of an Assamia.
Or maybe this is nothing to do with my identity, maybe it is the angst of my fast fading youth!
A very Happy Magh Bihu to all.